Is this the beginning of the end of the bull market?
That's what traders and investors are fearing after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index dropped 3.5% and 2.6% respectively last week. Capped by Friday's rout, last week marked the Dow's worst trading week since November 2011 and the S&P's biggest weekly drop since June 2012.
The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget warned earlier this month that stocks were poised to fall as much as 50% in the next year or two, and last week's selloff heightened concerns about the market's fate.
Zach Karabell, head of global strategy at Envestnet, says traders and the financial media are the most concerned about the market's recent slump.
"Vertiginous moves are good stories," he argues. "A lot of commentary is driven by traders, who need to make money Monday-Friday. I don't think there are many investors deeply invested in this market."
Karabell describes individual investors as the "proverbial kid in front of the candy store" -- they've been watching the market hit record highs over the past five years but are still sitting on cash or deeply invested in bonds. Now that the market has shown signs of weakness -- Karabell does not know if a correction has begun or the markets are showing signs of systemic weakness -- investors are more likely than ever to stay put.
Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist ar S&P Capital IQ, wrote in a note to clients Monday:
"Our recommendation is to do nothing, at least for now. First off, let’s put things into perspective. The S&P 500 is back to where it was on December 17, 2013 – just 25 trading days ago. Despite the recent decline, you can probably still take some stock profits. In addition, during the past few weeks, your investment goal hasn't likely changed, and neither has your overall time horizon, so maybe this action will satisfy your desire to bail and possibly stop your emotions from wreaking havoc on your overall investment plan."
Last week certainly gave many investors reason to pause and restrategize, but one down week can easily be broken by positive earnings reports and economic data. Caterpillar's (CAT) announcement Monday that its fourth-quarter profit rose 44% has helped push the markets back into positive territory -- at least in the early going.
Watch the video above to get Karabell's take on whether this market volaility will continue.
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